BERLIN - From election results to administrative changes, some new and familiar officials began leading the town of Berlin in 2017.
Republican Mark Kaczynski was reelected to his second term as mayor after defeating Democratic challenger Rich Paskiwiecz, 2,582 votes to 2,259, in November.
The former DEA agent beat the superintendent of four different school districts, including Berlin, to win the council position that was voted on independently for the first time after charter changes were made in 2016.
Joining Kaczynski on the council as republicans to comprise the majority are incumbent Deputy Mayor Brenden Luddy and new members Alex Gianonne and Amy Maier Daniele. Democratic councilors include incumbent Peter Rosso and newcomers Karen Pagliaro and JoAnn Angelico-Stetson.
The election also saw new faces join the Board of Education, Police Commission and the newly reinstalled Board of Finance, which was brought back after the same charter changes made in 2016.
At a Jan. 3 council meeting, the Town Council voted 4-3 down party lines, with republicans in the majority, to accept a separation agreement between former Town Manager Denise McNair and the town. Kaczynski said at the time he approached McNair, who held the position for eight years, with the idea a couple weeks prior and did so to bring about “change.” McNair received $65,000, or six months of her salary, and health benefits as part of her severance.
The council then voted to appoint Public Works Director and Town Engineer Jack Healy, to serve in a dual role filling the town manager vacancy since Feb. 1. The council also approved a $3,000 monthly stipend for Healy, in addition to his $114,108 salary for his orginal roles.
A search committee of members of the council and Human Resource Director Denise Parsons, formed in January, held off on making a full-time hire for the position, after interviewing several candidates, across two searches, until after the Nov. 7 elections put the new council in place. The committee also waited on using an executive search firm, ranging from $17,500 to $27,000. Kaczynski said after getting re-elected his goal is to make a hire in the new year.
Paul Fitzgerald announced in late July his October retirement from police chief to be with family, and over unrest from inaction on a new police station that was shot down at referendum and by the council in recent years.
The Police Commission, which has the responsibility to elect a new chief, opened the search for a replacement to three internal candidates: Deputy Chief John Klett, and Sergeants Chris Ciuci and James Gosselin.
In late summer, Gosselin withdrew his application and endorsed Ciuci for his youth and advanced degree background. Around the same time, The Herald received anonymously a copy of a complaint from Gosselin to Fitzgerald alleging 15 years of sexual harassment and vulgar language used by Klett. The language included a gay slur directed toward a member of the department.
Following an investigation by the town’s attorneys Shipman & Goodwin, of Hartford, which found the language to have occured and to be inappropriate but not inciting a hostile environment, the commission decided to unanimously appoint Klett as chief and Ciuci as deputy chief, with the same pay as their predecessors. The two were sworn in on Oct. 18.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.